The Student Professors

"I don't know how you talked me into this," Draco griped, standing in the empty classroom with Hermione.

The bank of windows on the far wall provided light and irritation in equal parts, as he'd much rather be out there, enjoying the late spring weather, than still in a classroom at the end of the school day.

"I didn't talk you into anything," Hermione remonstrated. "I volunteered because I thought Professor McGonagall wanted me for this project, and the next thing I knew, your hand was up as well.

"Yeah, well, I saw the gleam in Longbottom's eye, as though he was excited to work on it with you. I couldn't have that," Draco explained, putting his arms around her.

"Neville? Please," Hermione said with a tilt to her head and a "Be serious" tone in her voice.

"That's just what I thought," Draco answered. "How could he even think I'd let him have the chance—"

"Don't be silly," she interjected. "You must get over the idea that everyone is as enamored of me as you are."

He growled in response. "I'll believe it when I don't see it."

Hermione rolled her eyes and Draco's notorious half-smile appeared. "Then again, there are worse things than being alone with you in an empty room."

"Alright, that's enough," she admonished, slipping out of his hold. "We have work to do. And to make it easier for you, I'll make myself less appealing."

"Oh," he said, leaning back on the teacher's desk, "this should be good."

Using her wand, Hermione placed warts all over her face.

Draco shook his head. "No, I still want you."

She elongated her chin and crossed her eyes.

"You're hideous and I still want you," he chuckled.

In exasperation, she turned from him and concentrated on the features she wanted, then spun back around to reveal an approximation of the smiling face of Narcissa Malfoy.

Draco let out a gasp. Across the room, his mother laughed with Hermione's voice.

"You're a sick woman," he snarled, walking toward her, "and you might have just scuppered our sex life for good."

She laughed again. "There's still the matter of my attraction to you. Hmmm, let me see," she teased, walking around him, like an artist preparing a model. With her mischief at its peak, she used her wand on the handsome face before her.

"What have you done to me?" he asked with a voice altered by the changes in his nose and mouth.

With a big grin, Hermione produced a hand mirror for him to see.

"Really, Granger?" he said with a new scowl, "Potter?"

"I've always though of him as a brother, nothing more," she explained, still smiling.

Draco took a deep breath and dramatically closed the now-green eyes and pointed a finger at the face he couldn't see. "When we return to normal..."

She kissed his cheek. "We'll jump that cliff when we come to it. For now, let's get to work."

The next morning the third year students from Slytherin and Gryffindor arrived for their first lesson to find their Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom transformed into the Black Forest. Standing in the center of the room were Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger.

"Welcome," said Draco, motioning the young students inside, "to the site of the greatest duel in recorded history, the battle between—"

"Dumbledore and Grindelwald?" guessed one of Draco's pretty SUPME recruits, who aspired to be just like Hermione.

"That's right," said her role model encouragingly. "Five points for Slytherin. Now if you'll all find a place against the wall, we have a chocolate frog card for each of you..." She and Draco used their wands to distribute them.

"Where's Professor Sojourn?" asked raven-haired Patty Parkinson. (Would she have a lot to tell her big sister!)

"Unexpectedly called away," Draco said dismissively. "Now, let's get on with the lesson. The duel happened when?"

"The fall of 1945," piped up a tall, blonde Gryffindor, who Draco only knew as Serena.

"Correct," said Hermione, pinning back her golden-brown hair. "Five points for Gryffindor."

"Why?" asked the taller boy standing next to her.

"Why what, Karol?" asked Hermione.

Karol Steiner scanned his card with his somber brown eyes. "Why did it take so long for Dumbledore to challenge him? Grindelwald had already caused a lot of terror and death in that region, a lot of misery for people, like my family. If Dumbledore could have stopped it sooner, why didn't he?"

Hermione hesitated. While everyone knew of the two men's early friendship from Rita Skeeter's exposé on Dumbledore, Harry had chosen not to make public what he'd learned from the deceased headmaster, in the dream he'd had when Voldemort had tried to kill him in the Forbidden Forest.

"Sometimes, it just takes a while to do the right thing," Draco said in a thoughtful voice.

Hermione turned her head to him slowly, surprised at his defending Dumbledore.

"There can be divided loyalties," he continued, addressing himself to the younger boy. "You might think someone else is more suitable for the task."

Hermione studied his profile as he spoke, feeling a warmth surge through her, remembering his memory that he'd given her of his sacrifice for her.

"Sometimes," he concluded, turning toward her, " your courage has to come from someone else. But when you take the action, you can be prouder of yourself than you've ever been before."

It was as if they were again the only two people in an empty room, as Hermione stared at Draco and said softly, "But no matter the source of your determination, it's you who performs the deed. And if it's done sincerely, it can change you, change people's perception of you, and lead to something wonderful."

There were about six feet separating them. They closed the distance with the intensity of their gaze, though not with their bodies, as several "Ahems" erupted among the students, watching the couple around the faux foliage and rocky terrain.

"Right," Draco said, recovering first, "Student Professor Granger and I will demonstrate some of the tactics and spells that it says on your cards were used during the duel. See how many you can identify, then you can practice too."

"We've enchanted the room so that no one's actions can hurt himself or anyone else," Hermione explained. "So, Student Professor Malfoy, if you're ready..."

She flicked her wand and Draco flipped up and over in the air.

"Levicorpus!" shouted the students, laughing at the dangling Draco.

"Why didn't that end the fight right there?" a pudgy Slytherin asked.

"Because Dumbledore knew how to counter that spell," said Draco, righting himself and lighting back on the floor. "Take that, Grindelwald!" he said to Hermione, throwing a green beam that momentarily stung her shoulder.

"Stangem minimus!" exclaimed the group after looking at their cards. "Except Dumbledore's was maximus," added the SUPME member.

"Correct, Lila. Now, watch our wands when we strike. If we stab, it will affect a particular place on our bodies, whereas a sweep or flourish will have a more general impact," Student Professor Granger explained, making the same kind of slashing motion that Ron had used on Draco in their Valentine's Day duel. He staggered back a little.

"Stupefy," the students easily identified.

"Alright," Student Professor Malfoy said, smoothing his hair and the front of his robe, "you get the idea. Now half of you have a card with a name that will appear when you touch it with your wand. That is your partner, and don't worry. The cards are charmed not to go to the person with that name. So, reveal your partner, and prepare to make history."

Hermione smiled, pleased with how much fun he seemed to be having, despite his protests from last night. They mingled with the students, evaluating their techniques and offering suggestions and praise, until the ninety-minute block was almost over.

The student professors circled each other, now more flirtatious than instructive.

"Gellert," sang out Draco, "you've never looked lovelier."

"Wish I could say the same for you, Albus," Hermione responded in mock censure. "The years don't seem to have agreed with you."

Their circle seemed to become smaller, as they naturally moved closer together and the younger students crowded around them.

"And how did Dumbledore finish off the Teutonic Troublemaker?" Draco asked the class at large.

"Body-bind," the students responded.

Draco flicked his wand over his head, as if making a lasso, and pointed it at Hermione, who went rigid. He grasped her just as the chimes to end the period rang in the castle. Their hearts beat against each other; their look was longing. They controlled their breathing and desire with effort and managed to say in tandem, "Class dismissed."

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